FILE - Hemp

A hemp field in summer.

New COVID-19 order includes 250-person limit on indoor gatherings

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday issued an executive order extending for another 28 days the restrictions currently in place to restrict the spread of COVID-19. The new order leaves in place occupancy and other restrictions of the previous “phase two” order and adds a crowd size limit of 250 to indoor gatherings.

Louisiana has added 3,637 new COVID-19 cases since Monday. The number of people hospitalized also has been increasing, though Edwards has said the current trajectory does not raise concerns that the health care system in any region will be overwhelmed.

“Data from the last three days makes it crystal clear that Louisiana is not ready to move to Phase Three just yet,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “Our plan is to watch the daily trends and then to do another deep dive into the data in 14 days to determine if things are improving or getting worse, so we can make a plan for our future.”

Louisiana House Republicans on Thursday began circulating a petition to override Edwards’ public health emergency declaration, citing the economic damage caused by the restrictions.

Agriculture commissioner reports first successful industrial hemp sample

For the first time since the new state program was established, a batch of industrial hemp grown in Louisiana and tested by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has been found in compliance with the law, LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said.

The hemp was tested for THC concentration levels and tested below the maximum legal limit of 0.3 percent, the department says. The hemp sample was collected from plant material from a southwest Louisiana grower who plans to produce CBD. 

“What we’ve seen across the country is widespread crop failure because of an excessive amount of THC,” Strain said. “But with the right varieties, we now know that hemp can successfully be grown here in accordance with state and federal regulations.”

New $25.5 million interchange in Ruston fully open

The new Interstate-20/Tarbutton Road interchange in Ruston is fully open to traffic, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says.

The $25.5 million project creates a new interstate interchange in addition to a new Tarbutton Road overpass, a reconstructed Tarbutton Road north and south of I-20, and improved traffic flow on adjacent service roads, officials said.

“This fabulous project, needed for decades, is a partnership between the City of Ruston, State of Louisiana, and the federal government, and is a tremendous addition to the infrastructure of the City of Ruston,” Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said in a prepared statement.

Grambling Mayor Edward Jones said the project was first conceived 20 years ago as a collaboration between Grambling and Ruston and will benefit the economies of both college towns. 

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.